Charlotte Swavola provides chemistry for lacrosse.
Charlotte Swavola propels her 5-foot 2-inch frame down the middle of the field with a composed ferocity, searching for open teammates and inducing life into the crowd. On the lacrosse field, the junior midfielder is easy to notice.
The Cheltenham, Pa. native sticks out by having a hairstyle that is habitually separated into three braids. But Swavola’s hairdo is not a fashion statement. It’s a reminder of her hard work, talent and achievements, and a boost of confidence when nerves or doubts threaten her mind.
Each braid represents a year of Division-I competition. Now in her junior year, she can boast three braids for three years of experience. Swavola said she developed the ritual her freshman year when the thought of going head-to-head with Division-I athletes was intimidating and frightening.
“It’s subtle…but it’s a nice pre-game reminder that I deserve to be here,” Swavola said, who has scored 16 goals this season.
Recently, Swavola was named the Atlantic Ten Conference Offensive Player of the Week for games played between March 12 and March 18. During that span, she lead the Owls to a dramatic, 11-9 comeback victory against Delaware on March 17, in which she scored three goals with an assist, including the game-tying score early in the second half.
“My personal success was the direct result of my teammates’ effort. The whole team fought for that game [against Delaware]. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to finish a few shots,” Swavola said.
“Receiving this accolade demonstrated one of our principles, that we work for each other,” she added.
The chemistry that binds her teammates and herself is so strong, in fact, that she said she is often humored in the huddles.
“When we get on a run, it’s almost funny,” she said. “We’ll get into the huddle and just be joking and laughing. It’s great energy and it makes it fun.”
Aside from the hard work of her teammates, Swavola is aided by her own startling speed and savvy on the field that make her one of the fan favorites and a nightmare for opponents. Her aggression and competitiveness help make up for her small stature.
However, living up to her unselfish demeanor, she attributes her skills to the coaches and mentors that have guided her along the way, and is modest regarding her physical gifts.
“If you were to break it down to individual attributes, like size, speed or strength, I’d be nothing special in the world of lacrosse players,” Swavola said. “A lot of what has made me successful has been from experience, specifically being taught. Fundamentals are something I could master on my own…but those team concepts took a lot of work from outside sources.”
Swavola said she hopes to finish the season strong and gain some momentum before hopefully making the A-10 tournament, which begins with the semifinals on Friday, April 27, in Richmond, Va.
“We just have to keep working, keep improving and find new ways to challenge ourselves and thus our opponents,” Swavola said.
Mark McHugh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.